The 2017 football regular season has sadly come to an end. Before the season began, though, I made my official Sun Belt predictions and posted them on twitter. I went game by game and then posted what I thought would be the final standings. It is now time to own up to anything I got wrong and boast about anything I got right.
Before I present what my predictions were, I will say that I got a lot right on the surface. It was in the meat of the schedule where I got a lot wrong.
Now without further ado, here were my 2017 Sun Belt predictions:
|5||New Mexico State||6-6||5-3|
Below is how the Sun Belt actually played out.
|5||New Mexico State||6-6||4-4|
I correctly predicted the Sun Belt championship would be shared between Appalachian State and Troy this season. My reasoning was that, while App State had a cakewalk of a schedule, it is tough to run the table in the Sun Belt. For Troy, I predicted an October loss and then a title-clinching win over Arkansas State. I was right… sort of.
There wasn’t really anything major that I whiffed on. I did expect App State to be much better than it ended up being while I didn’t expect Georgia Southern to be as bad as it was this season. I predicted that Louisiana-Monroe would move above Louisiana-Lafayette this season and, while the Cajuns finished higher in the standings, I do believe the Warhawks were the better team. I mean, ULM did beat ULL this year. Nonetheless, I predicted a 10th place finish for the Cajuns and they finished sixth. That four-position difference represents the greatest miss in my predictions.
Predicted finish: 10-2, 7-1. T1
Actual finish: 8-4, 7-1. T1
This team was thoroughly underwhelming and yet still walked away with hardware. A loss to UMASS was unexpected, to say the least. The one conference loss I gave to the Mountaineers was New Mexico State but it ended up being against Monroe in early November. Thank the Lord we get an App State versus Troy game every year starting next season.
Predicted finish: 7-5, 6-2. 2nd
Actual finish: 7-4, 6-2. 2nd
No but seriously, I wish I could find the Arkansas State fans that were in my mentions about my predictions back in August. If not for the Miami game being cancelled, I would’ve been dead on. The Red Wolves lost to the giant killing South Alabama Jaguars instead of Monroe, who I had tabbed as the giant killers of 2017.
Predicted finish: 4-8, 2-6. T10
Actual finish: 3-9, 2-6. 10
Easily the toughest read to make before the season started, Coastal Carolina was one game worse than I expected. The Chanticleers lost to Texas State but a last-game surprise victory over Georgia Southern (which I predicted) allowed Coastal to move up and rest at 10th. This is probably the one I’m most proud of.
Predicted finish: 4-8, 3-5. 8
Actual finish: 2-10, 2-6. 11
I figured the Eagles would be bad but sheesh. I guessed that South Alabama would be Georgia Southern’s third win of the year, not its first as it turned out to be. The program is feeling some revamped energy with Chad Lunsford at the helm full-time, though. If the Eagles return to form, the new East division is going to be extremely tough.
Predicted finish: 8-4, 6-2. T3
Actual finish: 6-5, 5-3. 4
I was all aboard the Shawn Elliot hype train and had the Panthers tabbed as dark horse number one. Once the season started rolling, however, it looked as if I was going to be way off. Georgia State then got the ball rolling and rattled off three straight wins before its home date with Troy. The battle with the Trojans was going to be Troy’s lone conference loss of the season according to me, but instead the Trojans’ victory put a halt to Georgia State’s momentum. I would feel a lot better about this had the Panthers not lost dumbly to Idaho to finish the year.
Predicted finish: 6-6, 4-4. 7
Actual finish: 4-8, 3-5. 8
Maybe I just wanted to see Idaho succeed, alright? While I wasn’t far off standings wise, Idaho was two games worse with possible swings in both directions. Beating Georgia State was a surprise but the Vandals let one slip away against Western Michigan earlier in the year. Losing to UNLV and Coastal Carolina hurt a lot and were two games that I did not see coming. Oh well, happy trails Idaho.
Predicted finish: 4-8, 2-6. T10
Actual finish: 5-7, 4-4. 6
This team was better in conference play than I thought it would be. Defeating Idaho and New Mexico State was the difference between being on the top-side of the Sun Belt logjam and being on the back-end of it.
Predicted finish: 4-8, 4-4. 6
Actual finish: 4-8, 4-4. 7
Damn you Lafayette. Sure I got several games wrong but I nailed the Warhawks’ record. Monroe had a good team but a ridiculous out of conference schedule. Spoiler alert: this is going to be dark horse next year. Could win two outside the Sun Belt and return to the postseason.
New Mexico State
Predicted finish: 6-6, 5-3. 5
Actual finish: 6-6, 4-4. 5
The Aggies will be ending their dreadful 57-year bowl drought this season and it’s all because I correctly predicted them too. I kid, but I had faith in NMSU and it didn’t let me down. The big one I missed was the Aggies’ loss to the Rajin’ Cajuns in November. I had NMSU winning its final three games to reach a bowl game. It ended up not needing to do that thanks to an early season win over New Mexico.
Predicted finish: 3-9, 2-6. 9
Actual finish: 4-8, 3-5. 9
This is where you start realizing that maybe I actually know what I’m talking about. Either that or I’m an incredibly good guesser. While I was quite close on the surface, I got a couple of things wrong about South’s season that were completely unexpected. I correctly predicted the 1-5 start but after that things got a little wild. First off, the Jags beat a Troy team that was a couple of weeks removed from a win over LSU. I then nailed four of the next six games. One of the two I got wrong was the Jags beating Arkansas State. Why do you do this South.
Predicted finish: 1-11, 0-8. 12
Actual finish: 2-10, 1-7. 12
This one upsets me a lot. I missed one lousy game. Thanks a lot Coastal Carolina for being that guy.
Predicted finish: 9-3, 7-1. T1
Actual finish: 10-2, 7-1. T1
I predicted a 2-2 finish in non-conference play and a slip-up somewhere during Sun Belt play. Beating LSU made the difference here. As for which Sun Belt team I thought would beat Troy, it was a straight up guess. At the time I picked Georgia State and, for what it’s worth, I did not think it would’ve been South Alabama.
So, all in all I wasn’t bad. Especially considering this was my very first season covering Sun Belt football as a whole. On top of that, I really didn’t know much about the conference at this time two years ago.
I will accept any banter about anything I got wrong and would love to see how any of your predictions worked out. You can also expect this to be a yearly post so that you all have a chance to laugh at my stupidity. After seeing how I did this season, though, better luck next year.